Paula Valstein draws music lovers with her zesty performances like honey reels in bees. Having headlined esteemed venues and festivals all over the United States, such as Rockwood Music Hall, Highline Ballroom Milwaukee’s Summerfest, and Detroit’s Co-merica Festival, it comes as little surprise that tickets to her debut show at TAB in Singapore, on Apr 27, were completely sold out.

“[Paula’s] an accomplished artiste; she’s won several awards in terms of songwriting and participating in the Israeli version of ‘American Idol’ known as ‘A Star Is Born’,” states Adrian Mah, 33, director of TAB, who had the Israeli artiste fly over to Singapore for her performance.

The Tel Aviv singer and her band emerged onto stage through the dreamy produce of a fog machine and into the spotlight with “How Long”, fronted by Paula’s wispy, visceral and resonating,voice in a staccato fashion, backed by a groovy dance beat. The bubbly musician repeatedly expressed her love for Singapore and her delight to be granted the opportunity to perform here.

The quartet then led us into opening of  “Rockets Flying” off Paula’s self titled EP, released on iTunes in June 2009, before launching into one of her hit songs “My, My” where the effervescent lady got everyone to sing along to the instantly memorable chorus –“My, My, I can fly. Look at you, stuck behind… Ride, ride, it’s my bike. You can’t catch me if you try,” that holds so much significance to the Israeli songbird.

“You know it’s personal,” Paula tells UrbanWire about the story behind “My, My”. ”It’s one of the falling in and out of love experiences that happened to me. To me it came from a true moment of love that I felt. The whole song just came down with lyrics and everything in just half an hour, whereas the other songs take me months to finish! I think the song exploded in Israel because it was so simple and there was no sophistication to it! Somehow it’s just that at everywhere we play, that’s the song the people love to sing along with us!”

In no time, everyone in the crowd was already bobbing their heads or tapping their feet to the tuneful beat of “Same Mistakes”, where Paula, with bassist, Mitch Friedman, and Rory Kariok on guitars, started bopping along to their music.

With the band’s high energy levels infecting that of the now crazed dancing crowd, the outfit kicked into an upbeat song with a funky and intricate bass line in “Shoulder To Cry On”. Then, the intimacy between Paula and the crowd grew when she performed an untitled solo piece. Everyone’s attention was immediately drawn to her hauntingly reverberating voice, which was an impressive amalgamation of the emotions of heartache and longing she was trying to portray. With such a moving and heartfelt performance, anyone can tell that Paula does indeed stay true to her art.

“Music is the truth,” Paula shares with UrbanWire, “So when I write a song, it comes from a true place, and I really hope that with the songs that we play at shows, we can influence people in such a way that they can feel what we’re going through.”

Things got even more interesting when drummer, Ben Antelis, joined the stunning vocalist in singing another untitled piece that they wrote together, where Ben’s harmonious baritone vocals contrasted beautifully with Paula’s.

Despite being sung in a totally foreign language, it turned out that “Hallelujah” became some of the audience’s personal favourite after the show.

“I really loved the Hebrew song (“Hallelujah”), especially Paula’s vocals, for I thought the song was something really different and quirky in its own way,” commented Adrian Chan, 37, Assistant Director of the National Archives of Singapore’s Sound and Image Lab.

The talented Israeli musicians then unexpectedly exploded into “Trouble”, that sent the band and everyone in the audience into an uncontrolled dancing fit. Everywhere you looked, people were just rocking out! The strobe lights and fog machine enhanced the thrilling vibe, it was as if an explosion of smoke and sound engulfed us, swallowing our bodies in a flume of colours!

Just as everybody was trying to catch a breather from all that tedious dancing, the indie-rockers wasted no moment as they transited into their rousing rendition of Adele’s “Rolling In The Deep”. Before you knew it, the crowd started snapping their fingers and singing along to the oh-so familiar lyrics. It is then that the true richness and power in Paula’s voice became so evident, as compared to the many covers done of this hit by musicians all over the world.

The set came to an end with a new song “Missing Line”, followed by the popular “It’s All The Same” where Paula does an excellent job interacting with her crowd and ensuring that the show wouldn’t just be her playing one song after another, by encouraging the crowd to lend her their voices for one final time.

“My favourite part of the entire show would be when Paula and the band started playing that very first note of the entire show!” Sofia Amran, 21, student, exclaimed.

Of course, no one was going to let these Israeli music performers leave without an encore performance. The band obligingly returned and finished off with “As Long As You Love Me”, with a repetitive verse that pretty much summed up how everyone felt – “Keep on moving, I know you can’t stop!”

Photos courtesy of Asyraf Rasid.